Be present

19 July, 2010

Today I am 40-years-old. I have heard of people turning 40, but now it’s my turn. I suppose it should feel like “something” but it feels like any other birthday. Each year, I come to the beach and demand a chocolate filled donut in the AM and plan my day from there.

However, because I am 40 this time, it does cause a bit of necessary reflection.

The 15-year-old me is still so familiar. 1985 feels like yesterday and forever ago at the same time.

Do I wallow in regret? No…to the contrary. While the subtle undercurrent of regret motivates us in our daily lives, real regret normally morphs itself into a life lesson. What has regret taught me on a more profound level? It’s simple…be present.

Of course, I do have regrets and they are similar to the list of superficial regrets that I had when I was 30. Let’s see…I still can not speak Italian or play the guitar. I use way too many paper towels and I stay up way too late.

Even at 15, I was painfully aware of the temporary nature of life. So the reverberation of “being present” in your current moment has been a reoccurring theme in my life. Learn from the past and move on. Look forward to the future but be flexible. Wallow in your moment. Now.

My vision/version of the 40-year-old me when I was 15 goes like this: I am a very successful attorney living in NYC hanging out with the Warhol crowd and Deborah Harry is my very best friend. My apartment is a loft penthouse in the middle of the city with “Jetson-like” attributes including Astro and Rosie the robot. In my free time (because when you are 15, you think there will always be plenty of free time), I am a professional photographer and have at least one coffee table book published. My actual birthday is spent in some exotic place with an enormous amount of friends and family around me. On a daily basis, tribulations give way to waves of fulfillment. I am blessed enough to be surrounded by my loved ones and love hard in return.

Wait! 40-year-old version TAKE TWO: I am a wife, mother of two young beautiful children and own a successful business in Blue Ridge, Georgia. While Blue Ridge is a far cry from NYC, it does remind me of the towns we read about in 7th grade literature class. The woods are my home in a little red house complete with Yogi the dog but no robot. My peer group is the fly fishing crowd and my best friend is my husband of sixteen years who is the absolute love of my life. I have a few good friends that I genuinely love but my truest friends are my family. All of them…the whole gaggle…kids, husband, parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and the one technically unrelated friend whom I call my sister. In my very limited free time, I mountain bike deep in the woods on wild trails with my girlfriends. On my actual birthday, I am sitting in the most familiar place on earth on vacation with a few loving family members. On a daily basis, tribulations give way to waves of fulfillment. I am blessed enough to be surrounded by my loved ones and love hard in return.

Being present,

Shannen

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